Two races down, and Team USA has earned a berth in the Remenham Cup championship race!
Yesterday, we raced our fellow New Jerseyans, Princeton University. With warm weather and a light tailwind, conditions were perfect for a fast race. We set our sights on a lofty goal: the course record! Princeton gave us a run for our money, we just focused inward, dug deep, and raced it toward the finish line. And success! Not only did we set a new course record (by 6 seconds, woohoo!), we also set new records to The Barrier and Fawley, the two main course landmarks. A solid, fast piece for Team USA.
It was absolutely exhilarating to be racing again– this was our first 8+ race since last November’s World Champs! The thousands of people along the riverbank also stoked our competitive engine. Picnicers, pleasure boaters, rowing fans, socialites, proper English gentlemen and ladies… capacity crowds the whole way down the course!
This morning, we faced another formidable opponent: the British National Team “B” boat, the Henley Women’s Regatta champions and England’s entry to the European championships. Once again, we decided to keep an internal focus, and treat the race as a chance to push the limits of our boat’s potential speed. We didn’t go *quite* as fast as yesterday (a bit more headwind today), but we still bettered the old course record by several seconds.
This afternoon, a few of the girls decided to cheer on our American teammates from the posh comfort of the Stewards Enclosure. Accordingly, we got all gussied up, pinned on our “fascinators”, and walked down to rub elbows with Britain’s social elite. And what a scene! It would’ve been nice to kick back at the champagne bar, or to share a pitcher of Pimms with the dozens of Yale alums, but after our US quads raced by, we headed back home like dutiful athletes to rest and recover for tomorrow’s championship.
Henley Royal Regatta is the absolute epitome of rowing tradition, and this reputation extends to their “jumbotron”. Officials post times, show race progress, and depict boats’ margins on the old-fashioned wooden scoreboard in front of the stewards enclosure. Each crew is assigned to row on either the ‘Bucks’ (Buckinghamshire) or ‘Berks’ (Berkshire) side of the race course, and the wooden blocks on the board represent the relative position of each racer. Quite an innovative solution for a race that began in the 19th century! (see below)
Tomorrow we face the British National Team, racing as “Leander Club and Gloucester Rowing Club”. It is going to be a fierce race; the Brits are talented and experienced athletes, and they will definitely have the home-team support from the crowds! We’ll have to pull out all the stops tomorrow. Go Team USA!
Update: I just uploaded my photos into a public facebook album. Check them out!